The Tungus Event, or, the Great Siberian Meteorite

The Tungus Event, or, the Great Siberian Meteorite

The Tungus Event, or, the Great Siberian Meteorite

The Tungus Event, or, the Great Siberian Meteorite

Synopsis

This popular science book shares the fascination of the Tungus Event, a major mystery of the 20th century, in a factual and informed way. It provides "on-the-ground" descriptions of the site and explains the findings and the puzzlement of international scientists who have investigated it over the decades. After a brief and readable overview of comets, meteors, the sun and the solar system, the author ponders the range of possible explanations for the "great Siberian meteorite." The research is up to date, factual and scientific. While making no absurd claims to solving the puzzle, the author studies some intriguing clues in NASA's orbit diagrams for Comet Encke, and he is bold in discussing the possible causes of what was the greatest natural explosion in recorded history. As he points out, [Hypotheses] include rogue asteroids, mini black holes and even alien intervention....These explanations are not entirely equal to the facts. In the unique case of the Tunguska event, there was wholesale destruction to the mighty taiga woodlands but none of the debris that one would expect should exist from the body itself. Evidence like a strewn field of meteorite debris or meteoric dust on the trees and ground were never found, nor were any craters, in the area beneath the site of the fireball nor anywhere along the path it took. There are no craters because the Tunguska Cosmic Body (TCB) did not hit the ground. Atmospheric anomalies prior to the dramatic appearance of the fiery body puzzlingly occurred for several days, adding to the enigma. There are just a handful of English-language books on this subject. The most recent, The Tunguska Mystery, by the Russian Rubstov (Astronomers Universe, Springer Science 2009) is authoritative but highly technical and hard going for the general reader. Mr. Engledew instead tells the story in a balanced and engaging style.

Excerpt

The profoundly mysterious object from space that exploded several miles above a forested expanse of Siberia early one summer morning in 1908 defies full explanation in the face of a century of investigation.

That it was a major meteor or piece of a comet entering the Earth’s atmosphere and powerfully erupting above ground level is still the most common description, but theories exist in profusion. They include rogue asteroids, mini black holes and even alien intervention. As we will see, these explanations are not entirely equal to the facts. In the unique case of the Tunguska event, there was wholesale destruction to the mighty taiga woodlands but none of the debris that one would expect should exist from the body itself. Evidence like a strewn field of meteorite debris or meteoric dust on the trees and ground were never found, nor were any craters, in the area beneath the site of the fireball nor anywhere along the path it took. There are no craters because the Tunguska Cosmic Body (TCB) did not hit the ground. Atmospheric anomalies prior to the dramatic appearance of the fiery body puzzlingly occurred for several days, adding to the enigma.

After reading several English language books and numerous articles on the subject, I decided to pull together an up to date and succinct study of the strange and unexplained events with some background in meteor, comet and astronomical studies to try and put it all in perspective. This project, originally intended to be a set of notes culled from various sources and composed for personal use, soon became a labor of love. Separately, the protagonists of pseudoscience may be gen-

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